Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Most Powerful Voice on Earth

The Inhumans, a reclusive race of genetically altered superhumans, are among Marvel’s lesser known comic-book characters. These secluded superhumans follow the leadership of their king, Black Bolt, whose powerful voice triggers a supremely strong and highly destructive shock wave capable of leveling a city every time he speaks. Due to the potential peril posed by this power, Black Bolt practices rigorous mental training to prevent himself from ever uttering a sound, even in his sleep, and he usually maintains complete silence, communicating through sign language or via spokesperson.

In an episode of Ultimate Spider-man, which my son and I recently watched on Netflix, Black Bolt uses his earth-shattering voice to save the city of New York. As the floating city of Attilan plummets toward Manhattan, Black Bolt plants his feet atop the Daily Bugle building, turns his eyes skyward and utters a single word. The resulting shock wave sends the falling utopia sailing into the upper atmosphere. What I find most compelling is Black Bolt’s word choice. He could have chosen any word in the English language or even an alien language for that matter. But when Black Bolt spoke, he said: “Peace.”

Jesus made a similar choice. In Mark 4, a sudden storm seizes control of a leaky fishing boat occupied by Jesus and his followers. The sky rumbled above them, the water churned beneath them. Their fishing boat bounced and spun on the white-tops of angry waves. In the midst of the storm, one of them shouted over the crashing waves at Jesus, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” (Mark 4:38 NLT). Then Jesus stood up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39 ESV). When Jesus speaks, even the wind and the waves listen.

Two thousand years later, the words of Jesus have not lost their power. Not only did the words of Jesus have the power to still the storm on the Sea of Galilee, but also, when you read his words splashed across the pages of your Bible, they have the power to still the storm within you.

Just as Black Bolt’s powerful voice brought peace to the city of New York, the voice of Jesus can bring peace to your heart and mine.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Fight On Your Knees!

Who would win in a fight—Superman or Hulk? Batman or Captain America? The Flash or Quick Silver? In 1996 DC and Marvel Comics teamed up to answer these and other similar questions in an epic crossover event. With all of reality hanging in the balance, the heroes of two universes must battle each other for the fate of their own existence. Amid many other matchups, Thor, the mighty Norse god of thunder, is pitted against Captain Marvel, the emissary of the wizard Shazam and embodiment of Olympian power. As you can see in the image to the left, Thor and Captain Marvel stand poised—ready for battle. Their eyes meet. But before any fists fly, both combatants fall to their knees, fold their hands, bow their heads and pray. As both a follower of Christ and a fan of comics, this moment spoke to me. Nestled between mighty mêlées and swashbuckling skirmishes, two of DC and Marvel’s mightiest heroes paused and prayed.

Their actions echo those of Jesus in Matthew 26. On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prepared Himself for what would be his greatest challenge. In a few short hours, soldiers would lead Him to a place called Golgotha, where He would be crucified. He knew exactly what was coming. Betrayal. Shame. Torture. Trauma. Loneliness. And eventually… death. How could He face such a future without flinching? The answer—He prayed. The Bible says that He went to a remote olive grove called Gethsemane then “Jesus fell to the ground and prayed” (Matthew 26:39 NCV).

Perhaps we could learn from these examples. We each have our own personal challenges and conflicts awaiting us. Before the battle begins, each of us ought to pause and pray. The Bible says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand” (Philippians 4:6 NLT). Prayer may not remove our challenges, but it will give us the power and peace to face them head on.